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A Dog is a Man’s Best Friend Dog Friendly Spots in Frankfort : Written by Hope S. Philbrick

Going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to leave your dog behind. Frankfort is full of dog-friendly places to play and eat.
Frankfort’s love of dogs goes way back: In 1870, Frankfort native George Graham Vest, a lawyer and U.S. Senator, gained international acclaim for his closing arguments in a trial seeking damages for killing a dog. His “man’s best friend” plea eloquently praised a dog’s loyalty to its owner, brought tears to jury members’ eyes, and won the case.

Whether you’re in the mood for fetching goodies or gobbling treats, long walks or shopping sprees, you and your four-legged friend will find a range of spots to enjoy together across Frankfort. Take your pick of options from this list for a tail-wagging good time.

Buffalo Trace Distillery the nation’s longest-operating and most award-winning distillery, tops the must-do travel list of any bourbon explorer. Fortunately, there’s no reason to skip Buffalo Trace while traveling with your best buddy since dogs are welcome everywhere on the property with few exceptions (such as the bottling room). Dogs are even able to join you in the tasting area, gift shop, and on tours.

Photo creds: @derbycalifornia

Canoe Kentucky rents canoes and kayaks to paddlers; dogs are permitted to go along for the ride for an extra $10 per dog. (For obvious reasons, dogs aren’t permitted on the inflatable rafts.) Dogs who’ve already proven themselves to be comfortable around water and with boating are best for this activity, whether you go out on your own or join one of the guided tour options. Please consider bringing a life vest for your dog, even the strongest swimmers can get into trouble.

Photo creds: @canoeky

Capitol View Park is a scenic 150-acre spot overlooking the Kentucky River and the state capitol building. Enjoy nature walks; hiking trails; 9.5 miles of mountain bike trails, including 5 miles of off-track trails; basketball courts; football, soccer, baseball and softball fields; picnic facilities; and more. Leashed dogs welcome.

Completely Kentucky showcases work by more than 650 of Kentucky’s best artisans, many of whom are carrying on generations of their family’s crafts. The eye-popping array of goods ranges from fine art to gourmet foods, baskets to pottery, brooms to jewelry, and so much more. A welcome sign on the front door encourages shoppers to bring their dogs inside. Staff members are dog lovers who lavish furry customers with attention.

Cove Spring Park consists of 240 acres of wetlands, streams, springs, waterfalls, forested ravines, and an array of historic and natural features. You’re welcome to come walk, hike, observe nature, and picnic with your leashed dog. Some hiking trails are handicap accessible, six miles of trails offer interpretive signs for learning along the way, and The Sky Trail overlooks the city.

Frankfort Public Art Tour is a free, self-guided opportunity to discover murals, sculptures, architecture, and stained-glass windows in a range of styles from classic to whimsical within a few blocks of downtown.

Photo creds: @bonobstagram

Historic Frankfort Walking Tour is another free, self-guided tour that showcases 40 noteworthy properties. Stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a free guide for either or both routes.

Josephine Sculpture Park covers 30 acres of rolling hillsides with more than 70 works of art by artists from around the world. It’s free to wander around Kentucky’s only outdoor sculpture park every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Classes, workshops and special events are held throughout the year. The property is dog-friendly, just remember to leash up and clean up!

Juniper Hill Park and Golf Course dedicated in 1956 and the city’s oldest park, sprawls 124 acres. Among the amenities is a 94-acre, 18-hole golf course, tennis and volleyball courts, plus an aquatic center. You and your leashed pup can enjoy the walking trails, expansive grassy areas, picnic area with grills, horseshoe pits, outdoor exercise equipment, and more. The doggy fountain is sure to be a hit.

Kentucky State Capitol, built in 1910, is on the National Register of Historic Places. While dogs can’t join you on tours or get inside the actual capitol building, the manicured grounds and gardens welcome you and your leashed, well-controlled dog. Don’t miss the Kentucky Floral Clock, a 34-foot-wide timepiece made of more than 10,000 flowers that’s been featured on HGTV’s “Great American Gardens.”

Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a moving tribute to all of the Kentuckians who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War. Architect Helm Roberts’ sundial design casts a shadow on each of the 1,103 engraved names so that a shadow touches it on the anniversary date of his death. Leashed, well-controlled dogs are allowed. This area also offers access to the Capitol View Park trail system.

New Leash on Life a thrift and architectural salvage store operated by volunteers of the Franklin County Humane Society, where dogs are also welcome to join owners inside to browse for treasures.

Poor Richard’s Books welcomes dogs on a leash—even the Governor’s family brings the dog! The store stocks thousands of books, specializing in Kentucky titles. In addition to finding reading treasures, you can visit to listen to music and sip coffee drinks.

Photo creds: @poorrichardsbooks

River View Trail stretches from the Ward Oates Amphitheater off Main Street in downtown Frankfort through River View Park to the Buffalo Trace Distillery with views of the Kentucky River. Leashed dogs are welcome on the 1.6-mile paved path that passes 16 historic sites. 

Whiskey Thief Distilling is situated on a 127-acre farm in rural Franklin County Kentucky. Your dog is welcome to accompany you will you take the Whiskey Thief Tour where you will tour the still house, taste up to 5 bourbons or whiskeys straight from the barrel, and have the opportunity to fill your own bottle.

Photo creds: @whiskeythiefdistilling

West Sixth Farm Brewery is Kentucky’s only farm brewery: It grows hops and fruit on the property for brews made on site. Free tours showcase the hops, chicken coop, honeybees, orchard, fishing pond, cows, and more. Whether you prefer to sip beer and play cornhole just steps away from the taps or explore the 120-acre property and its 4-mile mixed-use trail, your friendly, leashed dog is welcome to join the fun.

Though by Kentucky law only service animals are allowed inside food establishments, several eateries offer dog-friendly outdoor seating. Leashed dogs are welcome to accompany their people at these Frankfort restaurants. Canine guests are routinely welcomed with refreshing bowls of water.

Andy’s Artisan Bread makes handcrafted artisan breads & baked goods daily. They are located just around the corner from the Kentucky State Capitol! They have a walk-up window so you can order without leaving your dog behind and have outdoor seating on the opposite side of the building.

B’s Bakery offers fresh, scratch-made, irresistible pastries from cookies to cakes, muffins to brownies, plus salads and sandwiches. Indulge in sweet and savory treats like hot cherry rolls and country ham biscuits. Don’t miss the Food Network favorite flamingo donuts or the locals’ favorite Flop—a brownie topped with a buttercream swirl then dipped in chocolate.

Buddy’s Pizza named in honor of the owner’s college roommate’s beloved dog, serves brick-oven pizza made using fresh ingredients, plus calzones, strombolis, sandwiches, salads, and lasagna. Bring a framed picture of your dog to add it to the K-9 Wall of Fame. 

Capital Cellars combines a wine, bourbon, beer, and spirits store with a restaurant and bar. Find the best bourbon selection in central Kentucky along with a variety of other Kentucky Proud products. Wine and bourbon classes plus weekend wine tastings attract friends old and new, many who routinely hang out on the dog-friendly patio.

Engine House Coffee located in the old engine house seated in downtown Frankfort, KY, is a coffee house that prides itself in offering high end coffee, tea, and various beverages to the community. They have several tables located outside and a water bowl located by the garage door!

Goodwood Brewing proves that limestone water and barrel aging is as good for beer is it is for bourbon. Sip your pick from the extensive brew menu and bite into scratch-made dishes like the ‘drunken chicken’ sandwich with beer cheese and bacon jam, chicken wings with Louisville lager glaze, and farmers market wrap with sorghum vinaigrette.

Photo creds: @goodwoodfrankfort

Hoggy’s Ice Cream in downtown Frankfort scoops hand-dipped ice cream with 20 rotating flavors from sea salt caramel to coconut almond chip plus twirls soft serve flavors like Dole Whip and Wildcat Blue. Choose among cones, sundaes, milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches, and other frosty treats. For your furry friend, order a ‘doggy sundae’ that tops a half-scoop of vanilla ice cream with dog treats.

Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe invites you to relax and savor organic coffees, homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, beers, wines, bourbons, and hand-crafted cocktails. A handy hook is available to tie up a leash while you order inside then re-join your pup at a table out front.

Mami Monchita’s serves a taste of Honduras. The extensive menu features savory breakfast, lunch, and dinner options like pollo con tajadas (fried chicken on a bed of fried green bananas and cabbage topped in scrumptious sauce). Dig in at a table on the patio that welcomes small dogs.

Mi Fiesta has inviting umbrella tables to shade you and your pooch on the sidewalk facing St. Clair Street. It’s a festive place to sip the state’s best sangria while digging into burritos, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and more mouthwatering temptations.

Mortimer Bibb’s Public House brings a taste of Ireland to Frankfort. Whether you prefer a proper pint of Guinness or creative cocktails like vodka blueberry lemonade, sip your pick alongside pub favorites like soft pretzels, grilled pimento cheese, grilled veggie panini, and more while relaxing outside among fellow dog lovers.

Sage Garden Cafe at Wilson Nurseries is a lovely spot for salads and sandwiches made with house-grown produce. The patio tables are surrounded by garden plants, many of which you can find for sale just steps away. Wondering which plants are best for dog-safe backyards? Pop into the greenhouses and ask a pro while you’re there.

Serafini showcases local ingredients throughout its eclectic dishes from chicken parmesan to bison meatloaf, Kentucky hot brown to salmon risotto. Outdoor seating offers prime views of the Old State Capitol.

Sig Luscher Brewery a heritage brewery originally founded in 1866, taps its flagship pilsner as well as specialty seasonal and experimental lagers that vary throughout the year and are available exclusively in the taproom. Nibbles like beer-steamed hot dogs, brats, and chili are tasty accompaniments. Hang out on the patio with your buddy while you sip beer, meet folks, and listen to live entertainment.

Photo creds: @heatherl823

The Stave offers a covered patio with views of Glenns Creek. The contemporary Southern menu offers delectable from deviled eggs to local beef, pimento cheese to pretzel-crusted trout. The bar menu presents an impressive selection of bourbon as well as craft beers and creative sips.

Keeping Your Dog Safe

Here are some guidelines to keep your furry companion safe while enjoying your trip:

Keep your dog on a leash: This is not only respectful to other visitors and other dogs but also helps keep your dog from getting lost or injured.

Ask before introducing your dog to others: Some dogs may not be comfortable around other animals and may need more space. Always check with other dog owners before letting your pup approach theirs.

Plan for your dog’s temperament: If your dog is reactive or not dog-friendly, consider visiting a less busy area. Most places require dogs to be well-behaved and under control.

Consider the weather: Dogs can overheat quickly, particularly in hot weather. If it’s too hot outside, consider leaving your furry friend at home.

Stop by the visitor center: We love animals too! Drop by the visitor center and show us your best friend.